Judge recuses himself from murder trial

Home Crime and Courts Judge recuses himself from murder trial

WINDHOEK – Judge Christi Liebenberg made a surprise announcement at a pre-trial hearing for the four men accused of killing renowned stock theft investigator, Hiambepo ‘Major’ Kazeurua.

Judge Liebenberg told the court certain evidence was presented during the three bail applications of the main accused, Stockley Kauejao, which necessitated his withdrawal from the main trial.

“In the interest of justice I deem it pertinent for me to recuse myself from the main trial,” he said without elaborating.

This is a major blow to the trial as it was ordered back onto the pre-trial roster for the allocation of a new trial judge.

The gallery was packed every time the case was in court with family members of Kauejao and Kazeurua filling the benches.

The accused were expected to be given trial dates, but now have to spend more time behind bars as the court roll is congested which means they may get a date only in 2016.

During the discussions in court it emerged a trial-within-a-trial might be necessary as there are some issues in dispute.

Stockley Kauejao (40), Matheu Kakururume (29), Muvare Kaporo (25) and Afas Kamutjemo (38) face charges of murder, stock theft and defeating or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. The accused are all alleged to have been involved in the gruesome murder and mutilation of Kazeurua whose partly burned body was found in an aardvark burrow on January 7, after being reported missing for days earlier.

According to the indictment the accused conspired to kill Kazeurua to prevent him from tracing cattle they had stolen and Kaporo and Kakururume ambushed him and killed him by strangling him and gagged him with sand to prevent him from breathing.

It is further alleged the accused defeated or obstructed the course of justice or attempted to defeat or obstruct the course of justice when they burned the vehicle of the deceased, burned and buried the body of the deceased, gave money to Kaporo and Kakururume to leave the district of Gobabis after the death of the deceased and the theft of the cattle, burnt, destroyed or otherwise disposed of the ear tags of the cattle, kept the stolen cattle on Farm Groot Ums and/or mixed the cattle with other cattle kept at Farm Groot Ums and attempted to brand the stolen cattle with the registered brand mark of Kamutjemo.

Kauejao, Kakururume and Kaporo remain in custody while Kamutjemo is out on bail. Kauejao is represented by Advocate Slysken Makando, Kakururume by Bronell Uirab and Kaporo by Monty Karuaihe while Jan Wessels is defending Kamutjemo.

By Roland Routh